Cutlery includes all of the forks, knives and spoons you use on a daily basis to eat and prepare food. A quality set of cutlery should last through years of regular use without becoming worn and scratched or breaking. Cutlery sets can be purchased that are made from a variety of materials including bamboo, silver, plastic and stainless steel. Stainless steel is the most durable and long-lasting cutlery materials.
Other types of steel contain more carbon, and are therefore stronger. However, carbon steel is difficult to re-sharpen. The slightly softer composition of stainless steel allows knives created from this metal sharpen easily and stay sharp. Stainless steel kitchen knives stay sharp while you slice through meat or vegetables. When the blade does dull, you can sharpen it with any basic knife sharpener. Other types of metal require special sharpening.
Stainless steel contains chromium and nickel. The addition of these metals prevents rusting or staining that ruins your favorite cutlery set. The amount of nickel and chromium in each stainless steel cutlery set is indicated by a stamp on the knives, forks or spoons themselves. This should also be marked on the box of the set.
The best combination available is 18% chromium and 10% nickel blended with the steel. A mark or stamp of 18/10 indicates these proportions. Some cutlery sets are marked 18/0 instead. The absence of nickel in these knives or spoons will make them stain and rust faster than better quality pieces.
If your stainless steel cutlery does become stained, most commonly caused by contact with plated silverware or silver pieces, you can buff out unwanted marks with a steel buffing compound. However, unlike silverware, steel doesn’t require regular polishing because it won’t tarnish.
When considering the best material for your new cutlery set, look for top-quality stainless steel. 18/10 stainless steel won’t rust, stain, chip or become scratched even after daily use for years. Even if you spend a little more on a quality set, you’ll be proud to put out your beautiful cutlery for holidays and dinner parties even when the set is a decade old.